Fletcher cuts housing funds

Gov. Ernie Fletcher vetoed the allotment in the state budget for Northern Kentucky University’s proposed new residential building and expansion to the Norse Commons April 24 during his address to the state.

“To reduce the level of debt, we must reduce the number of projects (in the state budget),” Fletcher said during the address.

For NKU, the cuts totaled $24.4 million, which were dedicated to the building of a new dormitory and expanding of Norse Commons.

University Housing Director Matt Brown said he’s dissatisfied with the budget cut.

“The demand for housing is not going to go away,” he said. “We’ll find another way to complete the project.”

Brown said since the state doesn’t want to carry the burden of debt for new housing, he plans to seek a private partner to fund the project. Other schools have used private partners to fund projects, Brown said.

“It’s a minor challenge and the university will overcome it,” Brown said. “I appreciate Governor Fletcher and everything he’s done for the university, but I’m still disappointed.”

However, other proposed construction projects made the cut. The Center for Informatics at $35.5 million, nearly $38 million in agency bonds for construction of a new parking garage adjacent to the Bank of Kentucky Center and the second phase of constructing the new Student Union were all included in the state budget. There are also road improvement and expansion funds for John’s Hill Road and the construction a connector road from Three Mile road to the AA Highway. The general university funding is set to increase $1.4 million in 2007 and $5.7 million in 2008 according to the final budget.

According to Rep. Dennis Keene, “Northern Kentucky faired better than any of the other regions in Kentucky.”

“The governor demonstrated his commitment to NKU and to northern Kentucky.” NKU President James Votruba said. “We were treated very well in this budget which will allow us to strengthen our contributions to our students and the region.”